(PRESS RELEASE) – The Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (ECSC), with support from the Canadian-funded Judicial Reform and Institutional Strengthening (JURIST) Project, launched a Mediation Public Awareness Campaign in the Federation of St. Christopher (St. Kitts) and Nevis on Tuesday, 12th November 2019 at 10:00 am in the Antiguan Room of the St. Kitts Marriott Resort & The Royal Beach Casino Hotel, Frigate Bay.
The launch was held to communicate the upcoming activities and events of the year-long public awareness campaign with members of the public and the media and to present newly trained mediators with their certificates.
The launch was attended by judicial officers of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, The Hon. Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, members of the National Mediation Committee, Legal Practitioners from the private and public Bar, members of the media, students from Cayon High School, and members of Staff of the ECSC Headquarters and the St. Kitts and Nevis High Court.
In her welcoming remarks, Her Ladyship, the Honourable Justice Gertel Thom, Justice of Appeal and Chairman of the Judicial Education Institute, said that,
“For the mediation process to be fully utilized, it is necessary for the public to become more informed of the mediation process and of the many benefits. Change as we all know is not often readily embraced, more so, when it is not clearly understood.”
Her Ladyship continued, “It is against this background that the Mediation Public Awareness Campaign is being launched in the Federation of St. Christopher and Nevis.”
Some of the year-long activities planned as part of the public awareness campaign include town hall meetings, panel discussions on the National Television Network, and a College Open Day to promote Mediation, among other activities. These activities will be staged throughout the length and breadth of the Federation of St. Christopher and Nevis.
The feature address was delivered by Her Ladyship, the Honourable Dame Janice Pereira, Chief Justice, who shared with the audience that “Mediation is an alternative to dispute resolution,” noting that “the courts are not the only option.”
Her Ladyship outlined some of the key benefits of mediation to both the public and the justice system overall. For instance, Her Ladyship stated that, mediation is an enhancer to the entire justice system because it facilitates a medium that is less time-consuming, less costly to everyone and importantly, is a mechanism whereby both sides to a dispute can walk away feeling a sense of satisfaction rather than feeling that families and friendships and associations are destroyed or damaged.
Additionally, Her Ladyship stated that mediation is a tool that will assist in achieving good order, peace and security. Her Ladyship also urged members of the audience to make use of mediation for its benefits, and reiterated His Lordship The Honourable Justice Davidson Kelvin Baptiste’s previous charge that the public ‘should not hesitate to mediate’.
The Honourable Vincent Byron Jr., Attorney-General and Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs, said the Government of the Federation of St. Christopher and Nevis fully endorses the mediation programme. He informed that the new Mediation Centre would be located in the Annex where the old Electoral Office was once housed. A new Mediation Centre would facilitate the Court’s expansion plans and “provide improved facilities for our new Court certified mediators”.
The President of the Federation of St. Christopher and Nevis Bar Association also pledged her personal support and the support of the Bar for the ECSC Court-Connected Mediation Public Awareness Campaign. She stated that it was the hope of the Bar that when citizens and residents become more aware of the benefits of mediation, they will use it as the first step towards resolving disputes and that members of the Bar will also encourage their clients to mediate their disputes once mediation is available as an option.
Immediately after the launch, there was a cocktail reception where the appreciative and lively gathering took the opportunity to mingle and further discuss mediation.